Reinforcing an Anti-Science Narrative Last month, when Jon Huntsman criticized his fellow Republican Presidential candidates for spreading malarky about evolution and climate change, conservatives, by and large, looked away. So it is a curious thing that many commentators on the Right are now jumping all over Michelle Bachmann for her “dangerous flirtation” with the anti-vaccine crowd. Orac has a theory: What is it about attacking vaccines that causes many of them [conservatives], even ones with ideas that are otherwise truly loony, to recoil in horror?…I think I know.

Whether it’s true or not, anti-vaccine views tend to be associated in the public mind with New Agey, liberal types. Although I frequently point out that anti-vaccine views actually span the political spectrum (look up General Bert Stubblebine III and Rima Laibow if you don’t believe me), there is at least a grain of truth to this perception in that vaccine resistance does appear to be high in West Coast and East Coast enclaves brimming with affluent people with liberal political leanings, places like the Bay Area, Seattle, parts of New York City and the like. Even though there are strains of anti-vaccine belief among some of the more Libertarian elements of the conservative movement, echoing nicely with “health freedom” beliefs, it hasn’t stuck, and conservatives do not view themselves as “anti-vaccine,” unlike those “loony Jenny McCarthy types.” As a consequence, I think it actually shocked many Republicans to hear anti-vaccine views so baldly stated right in the middle of a Republican debate by one of its major candidats for president. To those of us who are aware of the principle of crank magnetism, which states that people who support one form of pseudoscience tend to be credulous enough to believe in other forms of pseudoscience, it is no surprise that Bachmann has apparently come out as being anti-vaccine. To Republicans, crank magnetism is fine about evolution and global climate change, but should that crank magnetism drift into areas that are perceived as being “liberal” pseudoscience, watch out!

Buy Zolpidem Er That’s what Michelle Bachmann did on Monday and Tuesday, drifted away from “conservative” ideological pseudoscience into what is perceived, again rightly or wrongly, as “liberal” pseudoscience, and that’s why she’s paying the price. Questioning evolution or AGW? Hey, that’s skepticism! Anti-vaccine views? Hey, that’s liberal crazy talk!

Zolpidem Uk Online He might be on to something.

Additionally, I bet that Republican leaders are becoming increasingly worried about the anti-science views of its leading Presidential candidates. There is a narrative taking shape in the public’s mind, which gets reinforced every time a high profile Republican is dismissive of evolution, climate change and now, vaccines.

66 Responses to “Reinforcing an Anti-Science Narrative”

  1. kdk33 says:

    Bachman may well be doomed, but she’s still hot.  She won’t win.. 

    Funnily, you’re on the verge of identifying one of Perry’s vulnerabilities.  Once you get it figured out, you won’t need to make stuff up. I continue to think R’s have not  yet found their candidate (Please don’t let it be Romney).  Huntaman is a democratic plant – the manchurian.

    Regarding crank magaetism :  anyone who believes green energy is a jobs program, might actually belive Obamacare will reduce the deficit and that an additional 400 B stimulus (err.. jobs program, sorry) will help the economy, that corporations actually pay taxes, that public sector unions aren’t prima facia corrupt, that entitlement programs don’t meed major reform, and that federal spending is improving education…

    just sayin’

    BTW, this is interesting:

  2. Gaythia says: I think that there are additional issues that both you and Orac are neglecting.  One is that there obviously is a usually papered over divide between the fundamentalist social conservatives and the corporate power oriented wings of the Republican party.  Getting the religious fundamentalists to segue from evolution denialism to climate denialism suits the monied interests, but vaccine denialism does not.
    Also, as much as I dislike Bachmann’s politics, I do have some concern for the way that the debates “who’s the most powerful guy here” and football style commentary marginalizes her just because she is female.  I think that her vaccine comments were an effort on her part to regain the stage.  and in that light, fairly successful.
    Are Republican leaders worried about anti-science?  I think that it depends on which leaders you are talking about.  Do you think Huntsman, who is positioning himself as the science candidate, can win the nomination?
    Additionally, I think that the NY race had more to do with Israel than it does any other Obama policy.  Certainly not green energy, Social Security or Medicare. 

  3. Dean says:

    There is another interesting contrast. Where there are conspiracy theories that are held by more on the left, they are almost always rejected by more prominent Democrats. The Democratic Party does not appease or abet the spread of these conspiracy theories that some of its supporters hold to.
    Almost the opposite is true on the right, where in most cases, I think the presidential candidates give more support to them than the average Republican – because the average Republican is not key to the nomination.
    Hearing the Tea Party Debate crowd cheer letting somebody without health insurance die will only emphasize that letting this crowd dominate the Republican Party is going to drive it into the ground. Only the status of the economy is keeping the Republicans afloat now.

  4. D. Robinson says:

    Cheap Zolpidem Er Does anybody research the details of such topics before they write an article on them?  The HPV virus is unique from mmr, polio, the flu or chicken pox.  ‘The only guaranteed means of preventing HPV is through absolute abstinence from all sexual contact’
    So it is more complicated, to state or mandate that a 12 year old girl should have the HPV vaccine runs afoul of many conservatives (& others) beliefs that no 12 year old girl should possibly be having sex.  Are we vaccinating them so that they can more safely have sexual contact?  Isn’t that like handing out condoms?
    I think this may be part of the reason why conservatives, especially religious conservatives, would be up in arms about the hpv vaccine while not being ‘anti-vaccine’ in general.  It was smart for Bachmann to roast Perry on the issue because it’s lose lose lose for him.  Was he andering to the drug company, mandating healthcare choices, or ‘encouraging’ young women to have sexual contact. 

  5. Gaythia says:

    Ambien Sleeping Tablets Online I agree with D. Robinson that the HPV vaccine issue is complex and does not lend itself strictly to a vaxx/antivaxx analysis. Simplistic moralistic arguments, or pharmaceutical lobbying dollars are also not great ways to implement medical policy.  Because this vaccine does not eliminate HPV, (only certain types) there is some controversy overall as to the appropriate allocation of health dollars. Should we focus on expanding use of pap smears (still needed even if vaccinated) instead? If we reduce the population of certain forms of HPV, are we truly, over the long haul shifting towards virus forms that are less likely to cause cancer, and more likely to create immunity?  If we heighten a belief that with the vaccination, pap smears are no longer necessary, might we actually increase cervical cancer rates over time?
    See for example:

  6. Keith Kloor says:

    D. Robinson, I might ask the same of you–have you read the news articles containing the batty alarmist claims Bachmann has attributed to the HPV vaccination? It’s caused even Rush Limbaugh-of all people–to say she’s jumped the shark. Your comment is a conflation of two separate issues. Yes, the social conservatives are mostly opposed to this vaccine because of the sex issue. 

    But that’s not what Limbaugh and many other conservatives are roasting Bachmann about. I do agree with Gaythia, though, in that Bachmann has been able to inject herself back into Presidential campaign dialogue by pounding Perry with this vaccine issue.

    BTW, note that Romney has stayed silent as this particular circular firing squad on the right takes place. For all his faults, he’s a canny politician. 

  7. jeffn says: #4 and #5 — I enjoy the way this blog gets, for most, back to the truth of the matter. Good job picking this up and noting it.
    It’s going to be a long year and a half with a president whose poll numbers are in the 30s, he lost Ted Kennedy’s senate seat and  Anthony Weiner’s liberal congressional district, and the only thing the partisans have left is half-baked (and fossilized) scare tactic that the GOP is made up entirely of nutty Christians along with some selective cut-n-paste designed to regurgitate the really, really weak “Bush was a liar” theme.
    Sigh. So, the “pro-science” position is that the “Tea Party” is certifiable for doubting that govt. spending is sustainable (1.7 workers for every Social Security recipient now) and moreover the pro-science gang says rooftop solar is a wonderful alternative to coal in forested, electrified suburbia in the northern hemisphere as long as its backed up by wind along a coast known for its June-September doldrums (and sweltering heat). Put it that way and it’s no wonder a certain someone wants to mutter about creationists as if the Scopes Trial is back under way. 

  8. kdk33 says: Just to show I’ve such an open mind.  I saw Bachman’s comments – not good, not good at all.

  9. harrywr2 says: I bet that Republican leaders are becoming increasingly worried about the anti-science views of its leading Presidential candidates.
    Republicans tend to be very aligned with the idea that ‘Government does not know best’.
    Let’s review the Gardisil issue at hand. Texas Governor Perry issued an executive order requiring girls have the Gardicil Vaccine in order to attend school. The Texas legislator overturned the mandatory requirement.
    Gardisil does not guard against any diseases that result from casual contact. The vaccines normally required for school attendance guard against diseases that travel like wildfire in a school environment.
    Gardisil protects against diseases caused by sexual contact.
    It’s not an ‘anti-science’ issue, it’s a anti mommy state issue and parental rights issue. Both of which have strong support in the Republican base.
    Bachman clearly framed the issue poorly which is why she won’t be the nominee. Her framing can be clumsy which might not be an issue in a congressional race but is a game loser in a national campaign.
    I don’t read ‘redstate’ to get my right wing fix, I read Hotair. Their take was that Bachman took a valid Republican issue and spun it seriously wrongly…
    As far as Huntsman being ‘pro-AGW’ and Perry being ‘anti-AGW’. Utah has a very nice Uranium Industry.
    I think you will find that the various republican positions that are related to ‘Climate Change’ are related to whether or not ones local industry will profit.
    Lindsay Graham was for ‘Cap and Trade’ until he found out that VC Summer 2 and 3 would be economically viable without ‘Cap and Trade’, in which case he became ‘neutral’ on Climate Change.
    Texas has 10 GW of windmills that have poor correlation with peak loads and new nuclear power is far from being economically viable in Texas.
    I’m pretty sure the public already believes that Republicans allow money to influence their views on many subjects. If the public didn’t believe Republicans allowed money to influence their judgement no Republican would ever win an election.

  10. Keith Kloor says:

    Prescription Ambien Online kdk33,
    There’s hope for you, yet! 🙂 jeffn,
    Your point about it being a long year a half for a president with low poll ratings and a stagnant economy is duly noted. But not for the reasons you cited. 

    Where Can I Buy Ambien Uk You’re merely shooting the messenger, too. All I’m pointing out with my posts on this issue is that an image of the Republican party is taking shape in the public mind. It probably crystralized for many moderate voters and independents during the Congressional debt fiasco, when the Tea Party contingent in Congress held firm to its madness. That was an eye-opening experience for lots of people.

    Since then, the Republican Presidential campaign has highlighted controversial positions of some of the leading contenders, which, in sum, I argue will work against them and to Obama’s benefit.

    Can U Buy Ambien In Mexico Nor am I the only one to think this.

    Zolpidem Online Canada  

  11. Eric Adler says: Jeffn @7
    Your post is an ignorant rant proving what is being said about Republicans.
    You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. The ratio of workers to SS beneficiaries is currently 2.9, down from 3.2 because of the recession which caused a reduction in employment to population ratio which continues.
    Also Obama’s approval rating is in the low 40’s according to all of the pollsters except for Rasmussen, which has him at 39%.
    More proof that the Republicans are creating their  own warped version of reality.

  12. Tom Fuller says:

    Considering the regularity with which this occurs, there seems to be a lot of surprise about the political landscape at this point in time. A president in office during economic troubles has low ratings? Amazing. A weak field of opposition candidates resorts to populist posturing to steal a march on the primaries? Whoda thunk it?

    Cheapest Ambien Generic I’m setting my political alarm clock to this time next year. I may even stay away from Stewart and Colbert, just to avoid getting sucked in. 

  13. Sashka says: Why is it always necessary to paint the picture in black-and-white? One can be for vaccines in general and against mandatory vaccinations.

  14. Keith Kloor says:

    That’s not the issue in this particular case, but now that you mention it: yes, I like that the public schools my kids attend have a mandatory policy on children’s vaccines. If you’re for children’s vaccines in general, presumably because of public health reasons, why would you object to them being mandatory? And if you want to go down this road, I don’t have any problem with New York State’s 55 mph speed limit, either

    Zolpidem 10Mg To Buy You get my drift?  

  15. Jon P says:

    ” There is a narrative taking shape in the public’s mind, which gets reinforced every time a high profile Republican is dismissive of evolution, climate change and now, vaccines.”

    Zolpidem Cheapest That is the model prediction, let us see how it compares to what is happening in the real world.

    Generic Ambien Buy Hmm that’s funny, maybe the public is more worried about the economy than exaggerated claims in a Presidential Primary. Maybe we should invoke some climate science here and adjust the real world results, because the models cannot be wrong, 97% of the scientists form a consensus on that point.

  16. D. Robinson says:

    #6 Keith – I wasn’t trying to say Bachmann did a great thing for herself, and yeah her anecdotal comments did jump the shark. 
    I was just trying to point out that there is more to the hpv vaccine question than the pro or anti vaccine argument and Orac’s post that you highlighted doesn’t seem to account for this.  The manner in which hpv is contracted would lead some true conservatives to say ‘you’re not giving it to my 12 year old daughter’.  I don’t think you can just slap the ‘anti-science’ label on this one and move on.

  17. Eric Adler says:

    Sashka @13,
    The effectiveness of the vaccine is best if children get it around the age of 12, before they engage in sexual activity and they become infected. Schools have required that students be vaccinated. It is an important public health measure. Public health measures like this reduce the costs of health care in addition to improving the health of the people. Since a lot of health care is paid for by the government it makes sense to make it mandatory. It is a win for all. What is not to like?

  18. Sashka says:

    @ Keith

    If you’re for children’s vaccines in general, presumably because of public health reasons, why would you object to them being mandatory?

    Because individual risks may or may not be balanced public health benefits.
    Because the risk reward ratio differs from one vaccine to another.
    Because I have a lot of faith in big pharma purchasing power and zero trust in public officials integrity (and not much more in their intelligence).

    @ Eric

    I didn’t mean just this one vaccine. I meant it generally. Each vaccine has serious side effects occurring at a certain (but not known to the general public) rate. If I, in my best judgement, think that the risk to my child is not balanced by health benefit (in this case potentially nonexistent) then it should be my right to opt-out. Moreover, it was nobody’s business to impose it on me. I would agree that in some cases mandatory vaccinations are justified (strict guidelines are needed) but this was certainly not one of them.

    My health care is not paid by the government and I don’t want any business with them, especially when my health is concerned, thank you very much.

  19. kdk33 says:


    Obesity is a serious health concern.  Obesiry is prevelant amongst the poor, who’s helth care tends to be paid for by government.  Perhaps we should outlaw twinkies, or put fat kids in a special rehabilitation home. 

    Hey, it’s win-win.  What’s not to like.

  20. kdk33 says:

    Most of a persons health care costs occur at end of life.  Since much health care is paid for my government, perhaps we should end those lives sooner.  Hey, there almost dead anyway.  And we can spend the money on people who might actually recover.
    It  reduces costs and improves the overall health of society.  What’s not to like.

  21. Tom C says:

    Mr. Kloor –

    I have asked you this several times, not to harass you but to aid the converstiaon by offering some clarity.  What exactly is your definition of anti-science?

  22. Eric Adler says:

    DRobinson @15
    Are you claiming that vaccination of children for HPV leads to promiscuity? Is there any data to support that? 
    Oops, I don’t know why I bothered to ask that question. Conservatives don’t need data. They have their beliefs instead. 
    Well that is not exactly true. Michele Bachman had some data. A mother  told her that her child became mentally retarded because of HPV vaccine.

  23. jeffn says:

    Eric nice to see you as cogent as ever. According to the 2011 Social Security Board of Trustees (Timothy Geitner presiding) the presidents’ bureau of Labor statistics there are 1.75 to 2.2 private sector employees per social security recipient depending on how you run the numbers. Of course, the report shows that ratio will get lower and lower as the boomers retire and live longer.
    So, assuming you’re employed, you’re responsible for covering the income of a bit over half a retiree, a little less than a fifth of a government employee, and health care for everyone! I assume you’re cool with covering a welfare recipient or two and if we’re allowed to tack on a dollar or two for something as trivial a federal responsibility as national defense, it appears to add up. Just to be clear, you think it’s not just debatable whether this is sustainable with a current national debt of $14 trillion, you actually think it’s nuts to ask- right?
    KK – really. Read the stuff you post. Harry and 4 and 5 are right- Bachman thinks it’s wrong to vaccinate 12 year-old girls against sexual diseases. You can certainly disagree with her on this on the merits, but it’s a cheap shot to pretend it’s an anti-science position just to  bolster a weak partisan theme.

  24. Fred says:

    There are two sides to most scientific debates, including this one.  One fairly prominent physician, Dr. Mercola, has a health website where he has presented several, if true, compelling arguments against Gardasil:

    it prevents a type of cancer that is very rare to begin with
    it protects against a virus that, 98 percent of the time, is not the cause of cervical cancer
    it prevents a type of cancer that can be easily caught and treated by promoting regular gynecological exams
    it  offers less protection than what promotion of safe sex practices could accomplish
    it is promoted to girls years before becoming sexually active, even though the vaccine may only offer about three years worth of protection 
    it prevents just 4 out of more than 100 strains of HPV; all of which your body can clear up on its own in 90 percent of all cases anyway
    it has NOT been proven safe. No one knows if it can cause cancer or infertility, for example

    In another post he points out:
    “In the United States, as of August 2007 a review of the National Vaccine Information Center revealed the following, quite alarming, statistic about this unnecessary vaccine: 2,207 adverse reactions to Gardasil have been reported. Among them:

    5 girls died
    31 were considered life-threatening
    1,385 required a visit to the emergency room
    451 of the girls have not recovered as of July 2007
    51 of the girls were disabled

    All of these side effects for a vaccine that MAY (but then again, may not) prevent HPV — an infection that clears up on its own 90 percent of the time.”
    In another posting Mercola notes that Gardasil has been an economic flop for Merck and he comments why:
    “The real reason Gardasil is a flop is that people have become educated about this vaccine.
    They’ve looked at the science and weighed the risks vs. the supposed benefits, and have made a choice not to get it for themselves or their children.
    The word is out: despite what the CDC would have you believe, Gardasil’s safety record is in serious question. As of September 28, 2010, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has more than 18,000 Gardasil-related adverse events listed in it, including at least 65 deaths.
    As a vaccine used in the developed world, the science speaks for itself: Gardasil can’t ““ and never will — replace Pap smears, which are the reason that the incidence of cervical cancer is so low in the United States after decades of including pap smears in routine medical care for women.
    Today, cervical cancer is not even in the top 10 cancers that kill American women every year.
    As a vaccine for children, it doesn’t make sense to vaccinate to try to prevent an infection that is cleared from your body without any negative effects within two years in most healthy persons, and is not transmitted in a school setting like other airborne diseases that are easily transmitted in crowded conditions.
    Gardasil is designed to prevent only two of at least 15 strains of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer in those who do not clear the virus from their body within two years and become chronically infected.”
    It appears to be wrong to characterize those who oppose the mandatory administration of Gardasil as “anti-science”.  Big mistakes are made when people just go with the “accepted” viewpoint without digging into contrary views.  The worst mistakes are made when people become absolutely certain that theirs is the only possible correct viewpoint.  Just look at the supporters of “global warming” for a case in point.


  25. Eric Adler says:

    KDK33 @ 19,
    I believe that reducing the number of interventions at the end of life is a good policy for government financed health care. There is data that much of what is done does not prolong life at all. In some cases the treatments do more harm than good.
    We could start by taking soda, candy and other foods off food stamps, and funding a healthy foods program for school lunches. School based health education and excercise programs need to be improved and made more pervasive.

  26. D. Robinson says:

    Re #21 – No I am not claiming any such thing.  I’m stating that some conservatives could be turned off by the hpv vaccine for moral reasons rather than ‘anti science’ reasons. 
    By the way, since you’re so fired up about data, please check my last comment on the ‘long shadow’ thread.  Make sure you read the NIE before replying.

  27. Keith Kloor says:

    Fred (24),

    Mercola is not credible. See, for example, here and here:

    “Mercola is the website of Dr. Joe Mercola, a noted anti-vaccine proponent who is one of the worst practitioners of quack medicine to be found today.”  

  28. Keith Kloor says:

    Sashka (18),

    Can you be more specific on this:

    “Because individual risks may or may not be balanced public health benefits. Because the risk reward ratio differs from one vaccine to another.”

    Which of the pediatric vaccines that are on the standard regimen don’t meet your criteria? You suggested in an earlier comment that the debate is not black and white. Well, I’m asking you to not be black and white. What children’s vaccines don’t meet your criteria?

  29. Fred says:

    Thanks for the critical links on Mercola.  However, consider his points that Gardasil “protects” against a cancer that is easily caught by pap smears, offers less protection than safe sex practices, and is promoted to young girls before they are sexually active even though it may provide only three years of protection. 
    Then there are the reports of adverse Gardasil events.  Note:
    “To say Gardasil has a suspect safety record is a big understatement. These reports are troubling and show that the FDA and other public health authorities may be asleep at the switch,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “In the meantime, the public relations push for Gardasil by Merck and politicians on Capitol Hill continues. No one should require this vaccine for young children.”

  30. Gaythia says:

    The JAMA article that I cite above @5 contains the following paragraph:
    “The theory behind the vaccine is sound: If HPV infection can be prevented, cancer will not occur. But in practice the issue is more complex. First, there are more than 100 different types of HPV and at least 15 of them are oncogenic. The current vaccines target only 2 oncogenic strains: HPV-16 and HPV-18. Second, the relationship between infection at a young age and development of cancer 20 to 40 years later is not known. HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated 79% infection rate over a lifetime5“‹,6 The virus does not appear to be very harmful because almost all HPV infections are cleared by the immune system.7“‹,8 In a few women, infection persists and some women may develop precancerous cervical lesions and eventually cervical cancer. It is currently impossible to predict in which women this will occur and why. Likewise, it is impossible to predict exactly what effect vaccination of young girls and women will have on the incidence of cervical cancer 20 to 40 years from now. The true effect of the vaccine can be determined only through clinical trials and long-term follow-up.”

  31. Sashka says:


    I answered this question in 18. This particular vaccine mandated by Perry doesn’t.

    There may others but I didn’t do a lot of study. I live in NJ where shots are mandatory (or so I as led to believe) so the question wasn’t practical for me when my kids went to school. Lacking choices I preferred to pretend that this is all to the good. And maybe it was.

  32. Gaythia says:

    Keith, my answer to the question that you posed @28 above would be a bit long winded.
    I think we need to be a whole lot better at communicating risk, uncertainty and the best available science. 
    I think that would go a long ways towards taking the wind out of the sails of pseudo-scientists and fear mongers.  Pediatricians may find the whole subject old and tiresome, but for new parents, the rumors are fresh, the fears are real and they need to be addressed.  Good communication is good medicine.
    I think that we need to stop jousting with the anti-vaxxers.  And let the special case situations be special case, with knowlege and monitoring.  They have their exemptions and we can quarantine them as an extreme measure if necessary in an epidemic.
    I think that we need to focus public health first with a focus on best use of resources.  For diseases like whooping cough, create a cocoon of safety around too young to be immunized infants, that first looks at parents and caregivers, then other children.   For hepatitis B, directing much greater resources into vulnerable populations.  For meningitis, faster vaccination response to quell outbreaks.
    I think that in an informed society, to which vaccinations are readily available we’d find that we’d be creating and addressing demand rather than fighting nay-sayers.

  33. kdk33 says:

    Eric #25,

    Wow.  Just wow.  An interesting juxtapostion.

    Your first answer frightens me.  If the left has its way we will ALL be using government financed health care.  Death panels?  That is just way too much power to grant faceless beaurocrats.  Death panels?  The proogram will immediately be under financial pressure.  Death panels.  And lastly, did I mention death panels.

    Regarding your second.  I think I agree with most of what you say.  Foodstamps ought not buy candy.  School lunches should be healthy.  PE is a good thing.

  34. Gaythia says:

    @kdk33@33, aren’t you the one who pointed out further above that most health care expenses occur at the end of life, and therefore are paid for by the government?
    At any rate, would a decision by a faceless insurance bureaucrat be any more satisfying?

  35. Fred says:

    While you are tut-tutting about whether Bachman looks “anti-science” by questioning Gardasil  your man Obama is looking flat out nuts by opening up a website to collect and challenge “gossip, smears, and attacks” on him.
    Furthermore, he has taken the possibly illegal approach to fundraising of raffling off, for a $5 donation, a luncheon date.

  36. Keith Kloor says:

    Fred (35),

    And that has what to do with this thread? 

    BTW, as pointed out in this post, plenty of conservatives are tut-utting about Bachman’s crazy Gardasil comments. Like I said, when you lost Limbaugh…so you might want to take up your beef with them.  

  37. Tom Fuller says:

    kdk33, have you looked at the average lifespan for countries with what you lovingly call ‘death panels’ and compared it to the average lifespan in the U.S.?

    How about an extra 10 years of life? 

  38. Tom Fuller says:

    Nice to be back making librul arguments

  39. Fred says:

    On a day when it comes out that the President of the United States, the leader of the free world is raffling off dinner meetings for $5 to raise campaign funds you focus on Bachman and Gardasil.
    Of course, if this is untrue, then you should dutifully report it to Obama’s official “attack watch” website.  If it is true, this country is in a lot of trouble. 
    Your continual drumbeat of negative stories about the Republican challengers to Obama, such as today’s nonsense about Bachman being “anti-science” is merely a ploy to distract from the disastrous performance of Obama.  Since there are no positive reasons to re-elect Obama, the game is to make his opponents appear worse.  It isn’t working.   

  40. Keith Kloor says:


    Have you made this same complaint with Limbaugh and the many conservative pundits criticizing Bachmann over her recent vaccine statements?

    Look, I get that you’re going to reduce everything into a political disagreement. But unless a post is explicitly about politics, then you really need to stay on topic. I give commenters here lots of leeway, but I’m always striving for a higher signal to noise ratio. And you’re making lots of noise with your last few comments. If you can’t stop injecting your obvious partisan politics into a thread where it’s not warranted, then you’re going to find yourself on moderation.

    As I’ve said to others, if that offends you, then you should find an echo chamber that will be to your liking. 

  41. Eric Adler says:

    KDK33 @ 33
    WOW! Once again you are inhabiting your own private world.
    Why don’t you look at data from the real world. In the real world the US spends  about twice as much per capita as most  other countries that have universal health care, most of them single payer systems. Despite having highest level of expenditures,   the  US  slipped from 15 out of 19 in 1997-98 to 19 out of 19 in 2002-3 in the level of deaths amenable to avoidance by proper care. This shows that the health care system is failing its people.
    If your ideology tells you something, facts don’t seem to matter.

  42. kdk33 says:

    “At any rate, would a decision by a faceless insurance bureaucrat be any more satisfying?”

    Ahh yes, that old saw.  Urban legend actually.  It’s a false  choice, as you well know.

    I would much prefer to purchase private insurance to provide the benefits I chose.  I spend a lot, I get more coverage, but less to spend elsewhere.  I spend less, I get less, but more to spend elsewhere.  Either way, it is my decision and the cost is set by the market. 

    No, I absolutely, postively, uner no circumstances, trust government to make those decisions.

    If insurance fails to live up to their promise (it happens from time to time), that is fraud and should be punished.  And is an entirely different matter.

  43. kdk33 says:


    10 years! 

    life expectancy (combined sexes)

    canada  80.7
    UK         79.4
    US         78.3 (and rising)

    I’m blown away. 

    These difference can’t be attributed to universal health care, no matter how hard Eric tries.  Accidental deaths (highways, high risk activiteis) probably account for most.  And some is because we americans tend to make unhealthy choices (think quarter pounder – super sized).

    I’ll take free market health care and freedom to make my own choices in exchange for a whopping 1.7 delta in mean life expectancy.  I expect to make good choices; others not so much; it’s their life.

    10 years.  Now that’s a whopper.  😉

  44. Paul Kelly says:

    I am so sick of all this who is and who isn’t for the science. Is President Obama for the science? O yes, O yes. Look what he’s done so far. He has destroyed any chance for carbon pricing in the US for ten years minimum. He has broken his promise on ozone levels, mandated higher corn ethanol use, brought scandal in place of green jobs, and set energy transformation back five years or more.
    I didn’t vote for him. I made the case that McCain would be a better candidate on these issues and I was right. I feel sad that Obama has been as incapable as he has been on these issues and especially for those who did vote for him. All they’ve gotten is a sharp stick in the eye.

  45. Milan says:

    It might be interesting to know that in The Netherlands the extreme religious groups have always been very strongly opposed to vaccines. This has even resulted in a polio outbreak in this group in 1978 (, in Dutch, sorry). It appears that for some reason this is different in the US?
    anti-vaccine crowd in the Netherlands is, f

  46. kdk33 says:


    I apologize for not gettin’ round to you sooner.

    deaths amenable to avoidance by proper care.

    That’s reaching deep.  Seriously, I can’t imagine this measure objective.

    Let’s look at average life expectancy (as posted above).  It’s fairly objective – you’re dead or you ain’t.  The US ranks 38th (IIRC) – egads we need government intervention.  But the standard deviation is about 15 years (not normally distributed, of course).  So, an individuals life expectancy is far more dependant on individual factors (genetics, lifestyle, occupation, avocations, choosing a good doctor, etc,).  Factors affecting  the general population,  like single payer health care, aren’t so important.  According to the facts.

    The nice thing about America:  you have the option of making good life choices (stay in school), lifestyle choices (diet, exercise), health care choices (good doctors, regular checkups, preventative care), good health insurance.  Or not; up to you.  Equal opportunity; not equal outcomes.

    I actually favor significant reform – severing the employer-insurance link,  Deregulation, Purchasing across state lines (a round about way to deregulate,).  And jail time for fraud (like real jail time for insurance executives).

  47. harrywr2 says:

    Keith Kloor Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 1:44 pm
    If you’re for children’s vaccines in general, presumably because of public health reasons, why would you object to them being mandatory?

    The government has a ‘compelling’ reason to force children to attend school. Illiterates pose a substantially higher burden on social costs. Unemployment benefits, prison costs, welfare etc etc etc.
    Since the government forces my child to attend school I also expect the government to take reasonable measures to insure my child does not contract a contagious disease as a result of that mandatory attendance.
    Hence, the government has a compelling reason to insure that all children are vaccinated against diseases that can be transmitted through school attendance.
    The standard in a free country for a government mandating that an individual isn’t “It’s a good idea”, the standard is rightly “Compelling”.
    Once we lower the standard to “It’s a good idea” any semblance of freedom will evaporate.
    There is obviously a ‘best healthy diet’ and ‘best physical activity’ and television shows and books that have more societal value then others.
    The government can already change the channel on your cable TV box when it has a ‘compelling reason’ to do so.
    Why not lower the standard to ‘when it’s a good idea’ so that they can change the TV channel from some worthless reality TV show of no social value to PBS or MSNBC with Keith Olberman?

  48. kdk33 says:

    “MSNBC with Keith Olberman”

    Good lord I’m having flashbacks.

  49. Tom Fuller says:

    Increased incidence of several diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, have occurred in both the U.S. and U.K. following the decision of large numbers of parents to withdraw their children from vaccination programs. The loss of herd immunity is commonly accepted as the cause of this increased incidence of disease, and the deaths of some of the affected children.

    The compelling reason to force your child to get vaccinated is that I don’t want your child to infect mine–or my neighbor’s.

    It’s not really that complicated. 

  50. Sashka says:

    Sorry, Tom: I didn’t get your point. If your child is vaccinated how could my child possibly affect him?

  51. Tom Fuller says:

    Hi Sashka, your child could meet my child the week before he’s vaccinated. Your child could meet my child after his immunity has been compromised by a variety of causes. My child might have only a partial response to a vaccination taken in good faith.

    Herd immunity protects us all from those and other circumstances. It is worthwhile to establish and to maintain.

  52. Sashka says:


    From what I heard (from a doctor) heard immunity failed at least in the case of the whooping cough so this argument is not as strong as it may sound.

    your child could meet my child the week before he’s vaccinated

    Yes but the same can happen even if the vaccination are mandatory.

    Your child could meet my child after his immunity has been compromised by a variety of causes.
    My child might have only a partial response to a vaccination taken in good faith.

    OK, that’s possible even though the concept of mandatory and inefficient vaccines bothers me. I’d say if they impose something on people it’d better work well.

  53. Sashka says:

    [now with quotes in italic]

    From what I heard (from a doctor) heard immunity failed at least in the case of the whooping cough so this argument is not as strong as it may sound.

    your child could meet my child the week before he’s vaccinated

    Yes but the same can happen even if the vaccination are mandatory.

    Your child could meet my child after his immunity has been compromised by a variety of causes.
    My child might have only a partial response to a vaccination taken in good faith.

    OK, that’s possible even though the concept of mandatory and inefficient vaccines bothers me. I’d say if they impose something on people it’d better work well.

  54. Eric Adler says:

    KDK33, @46
    I  knew 10 years was an overstatement. However, the excessive cost of US health care is part of what is wrecking our economy, and hasn’t resulted in any significant improvement in Health. 
    You are in denial about the effects of not being insured. The best estimates for the additional annual mortality due to lack of health insurance is in the range of 18,000 to 43,000 people.
    There are 49 Million without insurance this year. 
    You say “I can’t imagine this measure objective”. Why should I care what you can or can’t imagine? You are not a public health expert.
    Public health experts have developed an index to measure the rate of “medically avoidable deaths”. This may be hard to define rigorously, and is only an estimate, but the statistics are an indicator of  the effectiveness of health care as a system.  Based on this estimate, about 100,000 people die unnecessarily each year in the US.
    Despite the amount spent per capita, which is about twice what other countries are spending, and the high rate of cost growth, our health care system is falling behind other developed countries.
    It is clear that conservatives like yourselves are in denial about this. This is yet another example of  what is called an attitude of anti-science.

  55. Tom C says:

    Mr. Kloor –

    An event from earlier this week argues pretty convincingly against this “anti-science” meme you have been developing.  According to you (though I’m not sure since you actually won’t cough up a definition) one can be anti-science by:

    1) being against vaccinations
    2) not agreeing with darwinism
    3) not acacepting the “consensus” view on AGW

    So, Ivar Giaever resigns from the Am Physics Society for their uncritical promotion of AGW.  I guess, by #3 above, that he is now “anti-science”.  But here is the real interesting thing: why do persons like Giaever, Hal Lewis, Freeman Dyson, Will Happer, etc. protest AGW orthodoxy, whle there are no analogous resignations over topics 1 and 2?  Do any notable scientists resign from their respective societies because of support for vaccines?  Or support for darwinism?  What is it about AGW that has driven so many clearly eminent scientists to public rejection of the orthodoxy? 

    I think the asymmetry here suggests that your equating these three separate issues and tagging them all as “anti-science” is misleading.

  56. Keith Kloor says:

    No, Tom C, you’re confusing #3.

    There is a solid, scientific consensus that AGW is for real and taking place. Judith Curry signs on to that. Roger Pielke Jr. signs on to that. So does his father. And so do other prominent voices that sometimes upset the applecart.

    The distinction this: there is much less consensus over what the impacts will be, when they will play out, how severe, etc, etc. And in in Pielke sn and (it appears) Judith’s case, there is also the question of which warming factors are most responsible.

    If I’ve mischaracterized anyone’s position or the equation, please someone jump in and set me straight. 

  57. Eric Adler says:

    Tom C @55
    The reasons people give for opposition to AGW determines whether their opposition constitutes anti science. 

  58. Tom C says:

    Mr. Kloor –

    We are homing in now on the fundamental dishonesty of AGW alarmism a la Gore, RealClimate, etc. etc.  The truth is that the vast majority of us “skeptics” question “what the impacts will be, when they will play out, how severe, etc. “.  Hardly anyone questions the radiative physics, the fact that there has been some warming, and so on.  It’s the alarmist predictions that have very little scientific support.

    That’s what Rick Perry is saying.  That’s what Ivar Giaever is saying. That’s what nearly every “skeptic” is saying.  It takes tortuous parsing to claim that Perry’s position is based on different reasons than Giaever’s; that one is “anti-science” while the other is not.

  59. Keith Kloor says:

    Again, you’re confusing things. Rick Perry is not a lukewarmer. Neither are Monckton, Inhofe, Morano, et al.

    They say climate science is a big con and yes, they also deny that human-influenced greenhouse gases is a dominant factor in warming, which is what the science says.

    It takes selective reasoning to make the argument you’re making.


  60. Eric Adler says:

    Tom C,
    Perry says that scientists are just making up the idea of AGW to keep grant money coming in.  That is clearly Anti-Science.
    The resignations are old retired guys that don’t have any background in climate science are more a related to their political beliefs. Giaever is and example.  In the case of Dyson, a dislike of empirically derived theories.  None of these folks have any expertise of background in climate science.

  61. Tom C says:

    @ Keith and Eric –

    You might want to read Giaever’s clever resignation letter.  He takes aim at the idea and relevance of GMT and he points out the absurdity of claiming that human influenced warming is incontrovertible. 

    Regarding the influence of funding, Will Happer was in charge of federally funded research at the DOE.  He might know a thing or two about scientific funding.  He claims that funding explains much of the current politicization of climate science.

    Hal Lewis does call the whole thing a scam, as do (did) eminent atmospheric scientists like Bryson and Tennekes. 

    No, the bright line between Perry and these authorities is not there as you would wish.

    But we can go back and forth all day.  Keith – you are a journalist.  Why not call up Giaever and ask him to explain himself more forthrightly?  Ask him what he thinks about Perry.  What his political affiliations are.  Why persons like him keep resigning from Societies.  It might be an interesting interview.

  62. Eric Adler says:

    Tom C @64,
    Gaiever’s  letter is quite short.
    It is not clever at all. It is foolish. It denies that the earth has gotten warmer, implying that the temperature cannot be measured that accurately. Furthermore he says that Norway is getting warmer so what is not to like.
    None of these arguments make any sense. If he is going to debunk the peer reviewed literature on climate science, he has to do better than that if he wants his criticism to be considered as credible by climate scientists. Maybe at 82 senility has set in.
    It is interesting that he copies Fred Singer and William Happer, 2 conservative old geezers who work for conservative think tanks opposed to government regulation. Such institutions have been instrumental in opposing the science behind global warming since the late 1980’s. Very little of the opposition has come from the peer reviewed literature. Maybe he is angling for a paid job as a denier.

  63. Eric Adler says:

    Tom C,
    I think you are overestimating the capabilities of Bryson and Tennekes. Tennekes was ousted from his job because of his quirky personality, and claiming bigger computers were not needed for medium range weather forecasting, and quoting biblical texts to support his position. Reid Bryson is another old geezer at 91 years old.
    None of the guys you mention as scientists who are AGW deniers have any real expertise in modern climate science.

  64. Tom C says:

    Eric –

    FYI Bryson is dead.  Prior to dying he was known as the father of climatology.  Tennekes is a highly literate guy who is comfortable quoting philosophers and poets as well as the Bible.  Not surprising that leaden-witted political hacks would not appreciate him. 

    One very curious aspect of this controversy is the clumsy ad hominem attacks levelled by alarmists.  For some weird reason, Real Climate sneered that Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick were from Canada.  Connelly talks about eminent scientists “going emeritus” not realizing how ridiculous it is to sneer at people for being highly accomplished.  You, Eric, might grow up some day and learn that age does not disqualify one from holding correct opinions.  In fact, the wisdom that comes with age helps to avoid being snookered.

  65. kdk33 says:


    You bandy the term “anti-science” such that it ceases to have meaning- just liberal pejorative; which, BTW, isn’t working.

    Also, you simply don’t understand the argument.

    I (and most conservfatives) favor health care reform.  But not the kind you want.  See, I consider government to be inherently corrupt, inherently inefficient.  Government decisions are political, not economical.  Furthermore, monopolies do not compete, services do not improve, prices do not go down; rather the opposite, I’m afraid.

    And a government beauracracy is the worst combination of all.

    So, thinnk about how much federal spending goes to education and then how effective it has been.  Why, according to some, the only thing standing in the way of liberal technocractic utopia is a poorly educated public.  Do you seriously want to throw more federal money at that problem.

    Government run health care will be worse.
    BTW, I am still, absolutely, blown away at you’re end of life comment.  How is this different from Palin’s death panels?

    Freedom to choose does not yield equality of outcomes.  Government imposed outcome equality yields universal mediocrity.  Says me; most other voters are starting to figure this out.

  66. kdk33 says:


    Mortality due to lack of insurance: 18k to 43k – sounds like another not so objective “fact”.

    Motor vehicle deaths: about 35K

    So, I’m less worried about mortality due to lack of insurance than I am about vehicle deaths, and I’m certainly not willing to turn 1/6 of the economy over to government to solve that problem.

    BTW, total accidental deaths in the US run about 120K, heck 30K are accidental poisonings.  (coupla years old)

    Just a coupla anti-anti-science facts to mull over.

    ps.  don’t take the brown acid!

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